AN INSTRUCTOR of the colleges of Architecture and Fine Arts has come up with a multilingual “visual dictionary” of Philippine architecture to guide students of history and cultural heritage.

Illustrations in the “Diksiyonaryong Biswal ng Arkitekturang Filipino,” published by the UST Publishing House (USTPH), have been drawn by the author himself, Rino D.A. Fernandez, along with contributions by some of his students.

The 111-page dictionary uses local terminologies of “vernacular” or native Philippine architectural styles, such as those in Bontoc and Ifugao, as well as the Spanish and English terminologies.

The book is divided into three parts: First Societies, Hispanic Period and American Period.

Fernandez said he wrote the book in order “to clarify” for Filipinos their “basic understanding” of architectural styles in the country, especially what historical periods they fall into.

He added that the book is likewise an attempt at cultural conservation since it seeks to foster “basic knowledge” of architecture history and heritage.

The visual dictionary shows the rich architectural history of the Philippines in more than 200 illustrations.

The first part shows 15 traditional houses, including the well-known “bahay kubo,” the house styles present among early communities and the means of transportation prior to the Spanish colonization.

Basic parts and plan types of churches, Filipino houses, the popular Ivatan (stone) houses and town plazas filled the pages devoted to the Hispanic period while nine different American architectural style renderings dominated the last part.

While teaching the out-of-school youth in 2010 at the Escuela Taller de Filipinas Foundation Inc.—a school training selected students from poor sectors of society on construction skills and trades, especially to be used in the restoration of built heritage such as Spanish colonial churches where old masonry techniques must be applied—Fernandez witnessed how his students’ lack of understanding of basic architectural terminologies. This led him to the conceptualization of the reader-friendly book.

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Fernandez said the visual dictionary is really to familiarize the readers with the country’s built heritage and the “local, Spanish, or American terms” that describe or define them.

Architecture Student Council President Audrey Navia said the book helps Architecture students grasp the terms and concepts in an “easier way” as they are “visual learners in nature.”

“The book is not only limited to those in the architectural field because it also contributes to increasing cultural awareness through its teachings on architectural history,” Navia said.

Selected renderings from the dictionary are displayed at the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences until Feb. 26. A formal turnover of Fernandez’s original illustrations to the Archivo de la Universidad sa Santo Tomas was held last Jan. 19.

“Diksiyonaryong Biswal ng Arkitekturang Filipino” is available at the USTPH bookstore.

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